SOLIHULL police station will remain open until a suitable alternative for residents to report crime is found, according to the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner.
Controversial proposals to sell off the Homer Road station as part of wider plans to save £5million and protect 100 officer jobs across the West Midlands Police force were given the green light by the PCC David Jamieson last spring.
In March last year it was announced the Solihull station will close in ‘late 2020’.
The government under new Prime Minister Boris Johnson has talked about restoring 2,000 police officers nationwide, the number cut since 2010.
Mr Jamieson told The Observer: “After government cuts totalling £175million since 2010, and no guarantees of how many officers West Midlands Police will receive from the government’s latest announcement, the force must continue to find efficiencies to protect officer numbers.
“Only 20 per cent of Solihull’s police station is currently used and it is costing a significant amount of taxpayers’ money to keep the building running.
“Currently West Midlands Police is talking to Solihull Council about securing an alternative site for officers in the town. This may impact upon the date of sale of the current site.
“The station will remain open until a viable alternative has been found for both the police to operate from and for a front desk to be maintained in central Solihull.
“Whilst technology means police are now less reliant on police stations to complete paperwork, there is still a need for communities to have access to police officers. I have pledged that no neighbourhood, which currently has access to a police front desk, will lose that service, including Solihull.”
Previously Mr Jamieson said he will only give the go-ahead to release the 24 police buildings once he was satisfied with the force’s plans to maintain a local presence in each area.
We also reported Mr Jamieson said stations would not close until a more ‘efficient’ one was opened nearby and these could be in the buildings of other public sector bodies such as the NHS or the fire service.
Mr Jamieson added: “I can confirm that it has always been our position that the station will not close until a new publicly accessible front desk is in place in central Solihull.”
The proposed closure of Solihull police station was criticised by borough MPs who fought to save the station.
Meriden MP Dame Caroline Spelman and Solihull MP Julian Knight led a 3,500-strong petition against the closure of the station.
Mr Knight was also key in setting up a public letter, signed by the region’s Conservative MPs, calling on the PCC to reject the proposals at this week’s meeting.